Gail Snelgar is the Western NSW Local Health District’s (WNSWLHD),Viral Hepatitis Registered Nurse for Dubbo and the Northern sector.
Gail has been listed as a finalist for the Hepatitis NSW Cheryl Burman Award, 2018.
Since the roles inception in 2011, Gail has been the sole practitioner, offering services in her base town Dubbo and outreach services to eight rural and seven remote communities in order to meet client needs.
WNSWLHD HIV and Related Programs (HARP) Manager Ann Ryan, said, “The WNSWLHD covers an area of 250,000 square kilometres. Of this Gail services an area that spans in excess of 191,191 square kilometres, including some of the most remote communities in NSW”.
“Gail is very passionate about her clients and consistently provides the very best care that she can for them. As a sole practitioner with a huge geographical area, Gail has managed some amazing results working towards the elimination of viral hepatitis in NSW”.
Gail aims to provide 3 visits per year to each of the outreach towns which includes the provision of education to doctors, nurses, allied health, and Aboriginal Health Practitioners employed by the LHD, GP practices, and Aboriginal Health Services. She works closely with local staff to ensure they have the skills and confidence to encourage people to be screened for viral hepatitis, and to support clients to commence and complete treatment. Gail’s success in supporting people to get through the old Hepatitis C treatments was testament to the respect and support she provided.
Working across communities that have significant Aboriginal populations, it is imperative Gail develops and maintains contacts and support systems within communities to provide culturally safe and appropriate health care.
With limited or non-existent private or public transport options available to the majority of clients, people with children or those that require support to attend appointments away from home have significant barriers to attending appointments and receiving treatment. Without Gail’s outreach, clients would be extremely limited in their ability to access services.
Gail identified on starting her role that in order to reach the clients who needed service, outreach clinics had to form an essential and inherent part of her role and she continues to advocate strongly for this.
Through her approach to working with community, Gail removes the barriers to access that would otherwise see many of our most vulnerable communities accessing services too late, if they accessed them at all. Despite very limited capacity and a large area, Gail’s commitment to following up with clients, many of whom have a very disordered lived reality and reside in isolated areas, has meant that she has consistently gone above and beyond the requirements of her position to ensure that all those in her care have the best support to complete treatment.
“As the current chair of the LHD hepatitis nurses group, Gail provides guidance, leadership and innovation to the team delivering services across the area. Recently, she initiated a program for Hepatitis Week forging new partnerships between Hepatitis clinics, Drug and Alcohol services and Hepatitis NSW utilising peer recruitment across multiple sites. Feedback from clients, many not previously known to the hepatitis service was very positive, with several asking when these days could be repeated. These clinics were also rolled out to support nurses in other areas”.
“We are extremely proud of Gail and the work she does. We wish her the best at the Hepatitis NSW Awards”. Ann said.